How to Compare Transcription Services Costs - Way With Words

The best price, is what most people tend to look for in just about any service they use. However, just looking for the best price can be risky, especially  when you need quality. Looking at transcription services costs is a perfect example where pricing and quality can be confusing.

For anyone looking at having their focus groups, interviews or dictations transcribed, there are a lot of transcription outsourcing choices to consider. Here are some popular tips that can help when it comes to choosing a transcription service based on their pricing model and the quality you may require.

How General Pricing Works

Prices vary between transcription services. Some online transcription companies charge per word, some per hour, and others by volume package. The most popular transcription services cost model is based on a per audio minute price rate.

Prices vary according to the type of transcription you require. Some transcribing companies offer an upfront price based on a set of standard requests. Many, however, also offer add-ons but at an additional cost.

Here are some common add-ons to look for when pricing your transcription needs:

Turnaround Times (TAT)

Some transcription companies offer lower prices the longer you wait for your transcript. Other companies offer a single turnaround with a set rate. Essentially the quicker you require your transcript, the more you pay.


If you are prepared to get a transcript with low accuracy (under 95%), then it becomes cheaper. Machine-driven transcription offers a very low-cost alternative to human transcription – if accuracy is not essential. Some transcription companies offer both options.

Time Coding

Time codes are important if you need to find locate specific information in your audio, video or transcript quickly. For this add-on, you usually have to pay extra. Some companies, such as Way With Words, offer free time stamps as part of this service.

Number of Speakers

Free or cheap transcription sites do not always produce transcripts that distinguish between speakers. However, for easy reading and attribution of who said what, when, speaker ID add-ons can be essential. Most transcription services charge extra per additional speaker in a recording.

Sound Quality of Original Audio

Machine-driven transcription services can be fast but are limited when it comes to transcribing poor quality audio, heavy dialects or any special subject matter. This is an add-on which many transcription companies charge extra for.

Compare Some Transcription Services Costs Models

Company Rate Type? TAT Options? Free Add-ons Upfront Price Calculator? Claimed Accuracy?
iScribed Per Minute None Not Mentioned Yes 99%
SpeechPad Per Minute Yes No – Additional Cost Yes 99%
Way With Words Per Minute Yes Time stamps


Unclear audio

Any Speakers

Yes 99%+
Tigerfish Per Minute/Hour Yes Not Mentioned No None
Rev Per Minute None Not Mentioned Yes 99%+
Casting Words Per Minute Yes Yes – Additional Cost No N/A
Nibity Per Minute Yes On Request Yes 99%+

Moral of the story for transcription services costs

Price is not always the most important consideration. Most cheap transcription sites offer low transcription rates because of low labor costs or because they use machine-based solutions. The result is usually highly inaccurate transcription – one that you will need to correct.

Time is money. So when accuracy is important, cheap sites will tend to cost you more time. An average cheap (or free) site will generally give less than 95% accuracy (machine-based services range from around 50% upwards). That might sound great but, as stated above, an accuracy of 98% or less will require a thorough transcript check.

Quick Tips for Lower Transcription Costs

It is easy to see that even the cheapest services are not always as “cheap” as they sound. Additional services add up quickly.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce your costs when outsourcing your recordings for transcription.

Clear Audio

Get a  proper digital recorder, which tends to get the best results.

The clearer the audio, the more accurate the final transcription will be. Clear recordings lead to faster and less complicated transcription requirements.

Know What You Want

Understand your transcript requirement before you order.

Do a bit of research into services before committing to a transcription provider. A little research in the beginning, helps to alleviate a lot of stress and wasted time later. Consider format choices, turnaround time and if they offer any add-ons with their prices/rates.

The Bottom Line is Not Always the Most Important Thing

Balance your expectations between budget and time saving.

When outsourcing your recordings transcription services, costs should be considered in balance with the level of accuracy or customization you require. Hiring a professional service with excellent reviews may cost a little more, but will prove more beneficial in the end.

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